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Why Did Best-Selling Video Game 'Dying Light' Remove A Line Of Dialogue About Violence Against Women?

The zombie-killing game Dying Light topped sales charts in January, with the title outpacing even popular Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto titles in the U.S.

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Pilots Come Clean: Drone Warfare Is Riddled with Tragic, Bloody Errors

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here.

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Govt Training Game Marks 'Unhappiness with US Foreign Policy' as 'High Threat'

How does the government hope to spot the next Edward Snowden? And how can federal employees pitch in to spot the 'threat'?

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Gen. Petraeus with a Video Game Cameo Appearance? War Games Are Almost Indistinguishable from America's Imperial Wars

David Petraeus may be out of the military and Central Intelligence Agency but he’s found a new role elsewhere — in the game “Call of Duty: Black Ops II.” Well, his likeness, that is. Set in the year 2025, the first-person shooter features Petraeus as the Secretary of Defense serving under a female President resembling Hillary Clinton. Gamers first see Petraeus on board an aircraft carrier named the “USS Barack Obama” greeting an apprehended terrorist in an orange jumpsuit. While Petraeus was uninvolved in the game’s production, his “Call of Duty” cameo reveals the symbiotic relationship between video games and U.S. militarism.

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Video Game Commemorates Austin Suicide Pilot

The smoke over Austin is hardly two days settled and already, many have risen to defend the actions of Joe Stack.

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Guantanamo Bay Video Game in Development?

A British video game development firm is in the process of creating a video game based on the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Entitled “Gitmo: Rendition,” the game “depicts the prison in the near future — after its anticipated closing by the U.S. government — as a camp run by mercenaries who detain innocents sold off to their captors to serve as ‘lab rats’ in scientific experiments.” The game’s developer hired Moazzam Begg — a “British Muslim who was detained at the American military base at Guantanamo Bay for three years” before being released uncharged — as an adviser to help make the game “more realistic.” Begg and seven other Britons detained by the U.S. recently sued the British government, “claiming U.K. authorities were complicit in their abductions, detention and interrogations.” Watch the game trailer:

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Bush's Iraq Policy: A Quagmire of Confusion

As the Bush administration searches with increasing desperation for a viable "exit strategy," its so-called Iraq policy grows more muddled with each passing day.

The latest example -- and an especially spectacular one -- was when George Bush personally asked key European and other leaders on Wednesday to forgive tens of billions of dollars of Iraq's crushing debt. The very same day, the Pentagon announced on its website that companies from these countries will not be permitted to bid on 18.6 billion dollars in reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

Needless to say, the Pentagon's directive and its timing were unlikely to put the leaders of Russia, France and Germany -- the most important of the excluded countries -- in the mood to entertain the president's request. To add to the White House's sorrows, the deputy prime minister of Canada, also on the Pentagon's blacklist, suggested that Ottawa may reconsider its plans to add to the $190 million that it has already contributed to the reconstruction effort.

It's not surprising that, in the words of the New York Times, White House officials were "fuming" over the Pentagon's announcement. Foremost among the irate administration honchos was, no doubt, former Secretary of State James Baker. The Pentagon move coincided with Baker's first day on the job as Bush's special envoy in charge of reducing Iraq's debt. As part of his appeal, Bush had asked German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, French President Jacques Chirac, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others, to welcome Baker when he comes calling for assistance.

Wednesday's snafu, while embarrassing and potentially costly in itself, is symptomatic of a larger problem facing a White House that seems increasingly at sea over what to do about Iraq as various constituencies within the administration desperately jostle to protect their own interests.

The price of internal division has become especially clear over the past month in Iraq. Since November, the U.S. military has adopted aggressive counter-insurgency tactics in order to reduce insurgent attacks, but at the expense of the larger struggle being waged by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to win the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis, including the residents of the so-called "Sunni Triangle."

The CPA's job is to convince Iraqis that U.S. troops are there to help them to rebuild Iraq and help it progress toward a democratic future. However, the military itself, which lost a record number of troops to hostile fire last month, has now embarked on a military campaign based to a large degree on Israeli tactics. It is not a strategy designed to win popular acceptance, to say the least. Razor-wire fences, checkpoints, night-time raids and roundups, bombing, and the demolition of houses and other buildings have not to date persuaded Palestinians that Israeli soldiers are in the West Bank to help them.

The CPA and the military now have "opposing goals", noted ret. Rear Adm. David Oliver, who just returned from a high-level CPA job. "The military's goal has nothing to do with the (Coalition's) success", Oliver said.

This incoherence -- or rather the exasperating difficulty of reconciling military tactics to political goals -- was best expressed this week by Lt. Col. Nathan Sussaman, the commander of a battalion that has surrounded the town of Abu Hishma with a razor-wire fence. "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects," he told the New York Times, "I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them".

Adding to the dangerous confusion is the continuing bureaucratic infighting in Washington over control of the Iraqi occupation. Neoconservative hawks around Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney are fighting for power with the "realists" and regional specialists in the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

While the neocons continue to bolster their favorites on the Iraqi Governing Council, primarily Ahmed Chalabi of the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the "realists" are more inclined to work with others on the Council, notably Ayad Alawi, leader of the Iraqi National Accord (INA), who has long been a CIA favorite.

During the '90s, the INA and INC, both of which boasted high-ranking secret contacts within the Iraqi army and intelligence services, competed for influence in Washington. When the neoconservatives skyrocketed into prominence after 9/11, and Bush decided to give the Pentagon the lead role in fighting the war on terrorism, the INC became the clearly dominant player.

The two groups fundamentally distrust and detest each other. The INC contends that the INA was heavily infiltrated by Iraq's intelligence services when Saddam was in power, and that many of its operatives are former Ba'athists whose democratic credentials are questionable at best. The INA, on the other hand, claims that the INC is essentially a vehicle for Chalabi's personal ambitions and not a party that can mobilize significant numbers of the Iraqi people.

The primary bone of contention at this moment is the CPA's "Iraqification" plan. Chalabi, who persuaded the Pentagon neocons to summarily disband the Iraqi army after the war, has long called for a thorough de-Ba'athification of Iraq, particularly within the military and police. INA, on the other hand, has long argued that purges should be kept to a minimum in order to ensure the cooperation and loyalty of competent officials and military officers in post-war Iraq.

In the run-up to the transfer of sovereignty to a provisional government scheduled for next June, both parties are aggressively pursuing their separate and conflicting agendas.

The Pentagon leadership continues to support Chalabi's efforts to launch a wide-ranging de-Ba'athification. For example, companies close to Saddam Hussein have been banned from bidding on new contracts. The Pentagon is also sponsoring new laws that will enable tribunals to prosecute even mid-ranking Ba'athist officials. Meanwhile, Alawi's INA is working with the CIA and U.S. military authorities in Baghdad to recruit former Ba'athist intelligence officials into a new military service to help fight the insurgents. INA is also lobbying hard for accelerating the "Iraqification" of the army and other security forces.

These conflicting and contradictory policies reflect the absence of a coherent underlying strategy that has the support of all the key factional interests back in Washington -- the kind of policy unanimity that has long eluded the Bush administration. And while Bush has clearly been tilting away from the hawks in favor of the realists over the past two months, muddled policymaking is here to stay, as each side retains sufficient power to undermine the other.

That Baker was the latest victim of this malaise on his first day of work is in some ways encouraging. It may serve as an incentive for him to take greater control of the presently rudderless Iraq policy. Among all of Bush's advisers, Baker is a dyed-in-the-wool realist who, as Ronald Reagan's chief of staff and secretary of state during the first Gulf War, showed little patience for bureaucratic or ideological intrigue, least of all from neoconservatives. He may well be Bush's only remaining hope for a lasting resolution.

Jim Lobe writes on international affairs for Inter Press Service, Oneworld.net, Foreign Policy in Focus and AlterNet.org.

Business as Usual: The Assault on American Workers

This week, the House passed a spending bill that could cut overtime benefits for nearly 8 million Americans. The newest scheme devised by President Bush and his Congressional Republicans reclassifies workers in relatively low paying jobs who have supervisory roles, as being exempt from overtime pay. According to the AFL-CIO, the measure could affect the pocketbooks of our police officers, nurses, retail workers, medical therapists and insurance claims adjusters -- cutting into the paychecks of working families. Such a reclassification would allow employers to shift new burdens onto these workers without compensating them for their extra efforts on the job.

This latest action flies in the face of the will of congress, and the desires of most Americans. Earlier this session, both the House of Representatives and the Senate -- in bipartisan majorities -- passed bills to protect overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). But the Republican leadership in the House ignored the voices of the American people and stripped workers of this basic protection anyway. The Republican move not only disregards the majority of both houses of congress, but it also ignores the hundreds of thousands of American workers who have made their voices heard by speaking out to President Bush and their elected representatives over recent months.

This holiday season more than 8.7 million Americans are without work -- for the unemployed, a jobless economic recovery is no recovery at all. "Compassionate" conservatives have responded by blocking efforts to extend benefits to the unemployed, offering millionaires tax cuts instead of real economic stimulus, and now, by slashing overtime pay protections for those who remain employed.

In the absence of a real plan for the economy, the Bush administration has offered our nation an economic "growth" strategy built on tax breaks for the rich, which siphon needed investment capital into off-shore tax havens, and an energy policy that rolls back protections for consumers, workers, and environment, while directing money from family budgets into the bank accounts of multi-national corporations and undemocratic oil rich states. The Bush economic plan undercuts the long-term welfare of our communities, our environment, and American working families.

Instead of taking the low road to economic recovery by letting business cut costs on the backs of workers, what America needs now is new investment that creates real growth and broadly shared prosperity. To turn the economy around and create good jobs with living wages, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, revitalize our cities, restore manufacturing jobs, and respond to pressing challenges by investing in new technology.

Yesterday's blow to workers is just another example of the failed conservative philosophy of government that has taken over Congress and state houses across America. To change the governing philosophy in this country we need to do more than point out the bankruptcy of conservative economics: We need to offer a positive vision that people can get excited about and rally behind. Slashing overtime pay protection is just another corporate give-a-way, a transfer payment from the middle-class to the rich, more political pork at the expense of the public welfare.

It is time to draw the line.

Bracken Hendricks is executive director of the Apollo Alliance based at the Institute for American's Future in Washington DC. Skye Perryman is a policy fellow for the Institute for America's Future.